GFT IN LICENSE DEAL WITH FUSCO, DENIES TALKS WITH CALVIN KLEIN

MILAN — GFT SpA and its parent company, HPI, were busy Thursday confirming and denying reports of deals.
GFT said it had nailed down an expected license to produce the signature women’s wear collection of Antonio Fusco, while separately, HPI denied a published report it was in talks with Calvin Klein to set up a joint venture to promote the label in Europe and maybe take a stake in the designer’s company.
HPI issued a statement to deny the Calvin Klein report that appeared in the financial daily newspaper Milan Finanza. Calvin Klein Inc. also flatly denied the story.
“The report published in Milan Finanza is absolutely untrue and full of inaccuracies. Calvin Klein Inc. has no interest whatsoever in selling a stake in the company to anyone. No such discussions have taken place at any time,” Gabriel Forte, president and chief operating officer of Calvin Klein Inc., said in a statement.
HPI has been the focus of rampant speculation by the Italian press since the holding company announced earlier this week it had signed a letter of intent to purchase the house of Valentino. GFT makes men’s and women’s collections for Valentino. GFT also makes Calvin Klein’s signature men’s wear.
Meanwhile, under the deal with Fusco, GFT will distribute the women’s wear worldwide, starting with the fall/winter 1998-1999 season. The line has been produced by Fusco in house.
Reports that such a deal was near were carried in WWD Thursday. The contract is for five years with an option to renew for another three years. In a recent interview, Fusco said the time was right to seek a license.
“I used to take great pride the fact that my company was small, specialized in hand-crafted tailored clothing and was overseen directly by me,” said Fusco, who started his business 18 years ago with a staff of 23 seamstresses, fabric cutters and patternmakers. He now has a production staff of over 100.
“That small structure, to a certain extent, hindered the company’s expansion over the years. Now it’s time to grow. After years of focusing on the product, I’m now also looking at the business potential,” he said.
In a joint statement with Fusco, GFT said: “The potential for this line is enormous, if you take into account that Antonio Fusco has reached a top level in the fashion world. Now, taking advantage of GFT’s operative and distributive structure, Antonio Fusco will be able to reach its full potential.”
Both companies declined to give sales projections for the first five years of the contract. Fusco expects to post sales of about $46 million (80 billion lire) in 1997 between his women’s and men’s collections and his second line, FusCo.
GFT isn’t Fusco’s only licensing partner, nor will it be his last. In July 1996, he inked an agreement with Gruppo Forall to manufacture and distribute his men’s wear line, and that same year he signed a similar agreement with Falber for the FusCo line. He also plans to seek licenses for Antonio Fusco accessories, fragrances, golfwear, knitwear and shoes.
While the Fusco licensing deal was confirmed, an HPI spokeswoman denied a press report in the Il Sole 24 Ore financial daily that it plans to acquire a majority stake in Antonio Fusco. A spokeswoman for Antonio Fusco also dismissed the report, saying it was “simply untrue.”

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